Gadfly Bites 10/24/18 – Down the garden path(way)

  1. Will Ohio’s report cards change in the near future? That is the ever-present question at the Dayton Daily News. The case for change is kind of sketchy here, if you ask me, but Fordham is namechecked within as part of the wide swath of folks supposedly aligned toward change. Somehow I don’t think our proposed changes match up with many others’. But I could be wrong, and I don’t write for a newspaper either, so what do I know? Another meeting of the workgroup tasked with making recommendations on same is today. (Dayton Daily News, 10/23/18)
     
  2. On the topic of graduation requirements in Ohio, the same dude who was last week attempting to shake down Columbus City Schools for more money is this week attempting to convince the state to extend the achievement-free graduation requirements gifted to the Class of 2018 to the next four graduating classes. To be fair, Columbus City Schools does seem to have more money than it has ability to graduate kids, so maybe dude is on to something. But this change affects everyone; not just your students members. (Gongwer Ohio, 10/23/18)
     
  3. The state supe visited tiny Tecumseh Local Schools in western Clark County this week, eager to see for himself “all the good things” he had heard were happening there. Not sure who was whispering such things in his ear, but please permit your jaded (but humble) clips compiler to break it down for you. Tecumseh’s superintendent told her big boss this week that the district set two main goals at the beginning of the school year—overall academic improvement and creating a positive and caring environment at school where students feel supported. “All schools are working on student learning, maximum economic gain,” said Tecumseh’s supe in this piece. “But not as many schools are putting as much effort as we are into goal two.” Tecumseh Local got a D on their most recent state report card, as also reported in the News-Sun at that time. Tecumseh’s supe had some very different words to say back then (September), asserting that the state’s report card grade doesn’t represent the good education students get at the district. “The district report card released by the state, while important, is not an accurate reflection of the student learning and progress occurring at Tecumseh Local Schools,” she was quoted as saying. “Of course we care about the results and will continue to work toward achieving goals set by the State of Ohio. Still, the report card results are merely one glimpse of the whole Tecumseh Local picture. District assessments indicate our students are making solid academic gains in all grades, and our staff is committed to continuous improvement.” Aside from the mismatch between the stated goal and the measured outcome, I personally was confused as to whose goal academic improvement for kids really is. And again, where the good news is as well. (Springfield News Sun, 10/24/18)
     
  4. So, it looks to me like traditional district schools are all in for getting more tax money while championing lowered rigor and more opaque accountability. Meanwhile, in Stark County, it seems that the Catholic schools are on something of an uptick in enrollment. Wonder if the two things are related? (Canton Repository, 10/18/18)
     
  5. In other alternatives news: COF is DOA. The non-public, non-tax supported school we’ve been following for most of the football season school year had its “school registration” revoked by the Ohio Department of Education last week. While COF officials have 30 days to appeal, I would imagine this scuttles their aggressive freshman football season at least. The moral of the story: If you’re going to try and play with the big dogs, you better have your AKC papers in order. Or something like that. (ThisWeek News, 10/19/18)
     
  6. So, maybe the alternative to traditional schools in Ohio is whatever alternatives those traditional schools themselves offer. To wit: career academies. At least it seemed to be an exciting option for one young man from Akron City Schools, interviewed in this story about a trip to a Ford planet in Michigan. This was a pilot effort to help kids decide which college/career academy pathway they will choose when ACS goes to that model permanently next year. (Akron Beacon Journal, 10/20/18)
     
  7. Since we’re seemingly mostly left with traditional options, perhaps we should see how those trads are doing in preparing their graduates for college. A project funded by the Ohio Department of Higher Education (and a million other folks with deep pockets, my internet research suggests) is supposed to determine how college students—specifically, those enrolled at Bowling Green State University—are doing once they enroll and to report back to the high schools from which those students graduated. The idea, I think, is to help those high schools make changes to help alleviate any problems detected or indeed to pinpoint what might be working so they can keep on keepin’ on. Interesting. The project began a year or so ago and this piece seems to be the first coverage of any reporting out of data gathered thus far. The results touted here are not particularly clear, but here is the only fact reported: “At BGSU, students were spending $2.9 million on non-credit bearing classes. Either they were not successful, or they were taking courses that were not going to apply to a degree program, but they needed to take before they were ready to the courses for the degree program.” I don’t know which high schools these kids came from, but that sounds pretty darn awful to me. Imma try to keep an eye on this in case any other data accidentally sneaks out and into print. (Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune, 10/23/18)

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Jeff Murray
Jeff Murray is the Ohio Operations Manager of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute,